Worst Career Move Ever? 32 Years Ago KISS Take Off Their Make-Up!


It'll be 32 years ago this September when Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley knew they had to come up with something to counteract the huge drop in popularity that followed the departures of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.

Keep in mind that their apex of world domination had peaked in '78 with the national broadcast of Phantom Of The Park.  Sure, the NBC show garnered great ratings because every kid in the country who'd only see pictures of the band in magazines was tuned in to see our heroes in the flesh.  Sadly, the poor script and wooden acting led many of these same kids lose interest in the band.

Almost immediately, you could sense a new level of desperation in the Kiss Kamp.  Every issue of 16 Magazine would carry a headline that hinted at a member's unmasking, with a photo inside of Gene or Paul with part of their face obscured by a handkerchief or, better yet, a copy of 16 Magazine.  In hindsight, why did so many boys care so much about seeing Gene or Paul without their make-up?  Freud would probably have a field day with that one.

The band released Dynasty, aka the album with disco hit "I Was Made For Loving You" on it.  The song had been a huge hit, but at the expense of most of their rock cred.

That's when the band shifted into Pander Mode, releasing the tabloid/comic style Unmasked, which, much like 16 Magazine, hinted at the ultimate unmasking of the band, but failed to sell.

Then came Music from 'The Elder', an album that perplexes Kiss fans to this day.  Can it really be as awful as what my ears just heard?  How could they have heard that and signed off on it?  It was crap. What's worse, it wasn't even inspired crap.

Next we members of the Kiss Army knew, Peter was gone and replaced by Eric Carr.  Oh, we'd been through internal shake-up's before, especially those of us who'd been following the Bay City Rollers.
So when Ace was also shown the door, the remaining die-hard fans began exiting the bandwagon.
At which point, the band FINALLY "unmasked" themselves, conveniently forgetting that we didn't even know two of the guys on the cover.  Did we also mention that this went down right as MTV was reaching mass appeal?

That's right, just as the entire music business shifted to a decidedly visual medium that was responsible for making stars of Cyndi Lauper, Billy Idol, and Duran Duran, the most visual band in all of rock & roll was gonna take off the make-up and try blending in for awhile.

Sam Kinison, er, Gene Simmons and Paul stanley sans make-up.
In other words, WORST CAREER MOVE EVER.

Suddenly, you start to understand how Music From 'The Elder' had gotten past the gatekeepers. These guys were out of their fucking minds.

Lick It Up, the album on which they chose to unveil their true identities, was just as generic sounding as the band now appeared.  They'd gone from four of the most iconic and recognizable likenesses on the planet to "Dude, Gene Simmons walked right by you and you didn't even notice."

Animalize (1984), Asylum (1985), Crazy Nights (1987), and Hot In The Shade (1989) came and went with dwindling fanfare, each album selling notably less than the one before.   Revenge was a nice return-to-form in '92, but, when the band invited Peter and Ace to make cameos during their MTV Unplugged special in '95, the fan response to the reunion of the band's original foursome caught even Gene Simmons by surprise.

At which point, Gene made the BEST CAREER MOVE EVER and not only got back together with Peter and Ace for a gigantic multi-year world tour, but put the make-up back on.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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